Aion Review

Score: 90 / 100
Good: attention to detail, new IP fresh lore, engaging and intelligent combat, high level of personalization
Bad: large time investment, the game doesn't really kick in till a quater through, class balance could use work to prevent flavor of the month
Reviewed On: PC

The Backdrop...

Aion is the newest in a list of many fantasy based MMORPG's on the market, The rookie on a field of veterans.

The latest release from Korean developer NCsoft (Lineage, Guildwars, etc.). Classifying itself as a PvPvE game, Aion pits two different factions of players against each other. The Elyos and the Asmodians, versus one another and the NPC AI controlled faction, the Balaur.


Let's Get Down to Gameplay...

If you are familiar with MMO's in general, you will get a feel for Aion very quickly. Where Aion differs is the execution of its focus... PvP. The problem with a PvP focused game is that it requires an enemy for content.

Enter in PvPvE, NCsofts answer to the problem. By creating an entire faction that is controlled by the game itself, Aion ensures that both player controlled factions will always have content to engage in should someone go looking for a fight. Speaking of fights, once you have found one, Aion's combat is very fast paced without the twitch factor of other games. Responsive abilities, many different options per class, and an auto-tracking feature for your intended target really make combat a strategic affair.


Beyond the skirmishes of small groups, there are also large scale battles over well protected fortresses, and rewards for such achievement. Players can also engage in traditional PvE content, raids, quests, and group dungeons. Last and most definitely not least, Aion introduces a third dimension to all of this gameplay with the ability to fly. While there are areas of the game limited only to gliding around like a bunch of thrill seeking base jumpers, most of your PvP will happen in flight enabled areas.

The Visuals...

While Aion is a good looking game, it is not impossible to run on a midrange computer. Aion takes the word detail to new heights. From the very beginning the ambience of the world shines through. There are simply too many "little" things to thoroughly list. From smooth character animations in and out of combat, to a user friendly and responsive UI, Aion provides some of the most topnotch visuals in an MMO.


For your Avatars visual, the options are unlimited. Every feature of your character is a slider on a bar from the common (height) to the strange (neck length). But unlike most MMO's, your options don't stop here. At anytime you can change the way any piece of your gear looks. Got that new piece of armor, but sad to see the one you have go? Simply remodel your new gear with your old replaced piece. You get the best of both worlds: Looks and value!

The Disappointments....

Being an MMO, Aion is susceptible to the pitfalls normally associated with the genre: Long hours spent improving your character, class balance, and paying a monthly subscription fee. Also the amount of time you have to wait before you are even allowed to engage in PvP is somewhat long. I realize they want to give people a chance to learn all they can before getting chewed up by another player, but a way to circumvent this after you have done the tutorial once already would have been a welcome addition.


Overall...

Aion is new and fresh, with interesting new features, impressive attention to even the smallest detail, and a completely new IP that has a rich and involving lore that is eager to draw you in at every turn. Not to mention one of the smoothest American launches I have been a part of (due to its launch previously in Korea a year earlier). Aion has staying power and that's for sure. It's overly obvious that when this game was planned out, the creators had a meeting and said, "Let's take everything that every MMORPG has done right, and find a way to put it all in one box." ...and they called it, Aion.

- Nicholas Ysiano (Nicro)

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